Every school year begins with the same project for my younger learners: a lively language hunt, which is then held every two weeks around the area they live in, as learners form groups and head off to discoveries together.
It takes some time of course to organize, so I usually get in touch with local stores, schools and the -amazing- people who are to take part around August. During September, I put my creative shoes on and try to come up with different routes around the areas, various generic clues to be filled in accordingly when lessons start and progress and, by the end of the month, everything is ready for my little hunters.
It’s always a great opportunity for them to practise what we learn together, only outside our safe circle this time, and a wonderful way to involve their parents in the learning process.
Usually those language hunts stop somewhere before Christmas break and recommence in the new year; it has always seemed to me necessary to pause them during that time, thinking that students would have already been ‘overworked’ and tired.
Things evolved differently this year, however. My kids were thrilled with the hunts and even before November properly came, they were asking where they would be “hunting” for Christmas. I felt that, having already prepared in my head our seasonal project ideas, somehow we would have exhausted the theme, and wondered if we should do more; probably a combination of worry for the students and also myself (still feel I’ve been in need of a long, quiet break for some time now).
Then on one fine morning, I woke to a Facebook notification (to which I have not reacted yet, sustaining in my love-hate relationship with social media) that my dear friend Josette had added me to a group; do you know that moment, the very moment, when everything falls into place? When the puzzle forms into the whole picture – that moment.
The “People Being Nice” group set me off on a path of ideas and, eventually, I settled on organizing a Kindness Hunt for my young ones. In spite of my initial worries that it would not work for a million different reasons, particularly being organised on such short notice, this hunt was ready to welcome my enthusiastic, active learners this week, leading all the way to Christmas day.
In fact, everyone who usually gets involved was eager to participate and each invited more; colleagues, friends, family, the neighbours. Kindness to the power of n.
I’ve been following my young hunters around to be part of their sharing and receiving of kindness and will update this post later on with those magnificent gifts.
You can use or share the clues I prepared for this special hunt from here. They’re specific to the areas here in Athens of course, but feel free to adjust them or get inspiration to create your own.
To close for now, I want to immensely thank each and every wonderful person who helped make this possible and real:
-My kids and their families for their persistence, enthusiasm and love.
-The awesome fellow educators in the local schools – Marianna, Nikoletta, Evi, Antonis, Stavros, Sofia, Liana and Agapi you all make this world a great place to be in!
-The happy kiosk owners and their families, Michalis, Joanna and Giorgos.
-Emilia, Stathis, Giorgos, Anthi and Marina, the effortlessly smiling bank clerks.
-Our superb local café owners and staff, Foteini, Litsa, Andrianna, Sofoklis, Rallou, Jenny, Katia, Michalis and Giannis.
-Amalia, Kostas, Giorgos, Sevasti, Maria, Anna and Nikos, the persistently cheerful store owners.
-The tireless train station security guards, Kostas and Vasilis and their families.
-Father Ioannis of our local church and his family.
-Every random passerby who got caught up in our hunt and helped spread the kindness!
-Josette, for unwittingly igniting this and for being who she is.
I couldn’t help it here but think of Jan Morris’s answer during an interview I watched recently (and I’m almost sure I remember it correctly):
“What is your secret to a long, happy life?”
“Kindness. Be kind.”
Happy holidays and keep spreading the good out there!